Record Collector (magazine) (p.84) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Album highlight 'Bimpé' is something of a wonder, blending together an African vibe with power chords and Asa's wonderfully emotive singing. A work of beautiful perfection..."
Uncut (magazine) (p.75) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "The Nigerian singer-songwriter continues to effortlessly blend pristine pop soul with the more indigenous sounds of her homeland on this second LP."
Audio Mixer: Tchad Blake.
Recording information: Le Chantier Studio, Montreuil.
Photographer: Jean Baptiste Mondino.
Arranger: Benjamin Constant.
Three years after her debut album made a big impression in the European world music circuit, Paris-based Nigerian soul chanteuse Asa is back with Beautiful Imperfection. Recorded in Lagos, this swinging hybrid of soul, pop, reggae, and Nigerian music is a lighter, more joyful affair than its predecessor, showcasing Asa's sincere songwriting and mellow, seductive voice. ~ Mariano Prunes
The singer is the Nigerian Asa and she has a small, delicate, intimate voice with a slight Nigerian accent, which never overstates or gets out of a very comfortable mezzoforte dynamic. The phrasing is always lilting and a tad melancholic, where she never pushes the music but sits inside and behind the groove, giving it a very relaxed feel.
Unfortunately or fortunately my real interest was more pricked by the producer/arranger, Benjamin Constant. There is some very tasty, smooth production going on hereófar more than you would expect from any pop CD. First of all the panning! Lots of hard right or left acoustic guitar played African style (3 or 4 strings) while some light African percussion might sit on the opposite side, creating all this space for this intimate voice and the rest of the band. Throughout the album, players are sitting in their own Ďroomí giving the mix an otherworldly quality, especially in the verses. The production is very layered dynamically, so there is a lot of stuff going on in the back of the mix that give the sound a bigness or thicknessóbut it never gets in the way because itís mixed really, really well.
Now the arrangements themselves--never overbearing---but heís bringing a wealth of knowledge and taste to the table from the Beatles to Bjork to dance hall to jazz to metal to pop, Nashville smoothness. The choruses are so tasty and thick in the arrangement and production they just totally seduce you with sonic flirtations. At the same time he still keeps it in the genre, which is no mean feat. Heís also working with some very ripe studio players who play very dynamically and with lots of licks and riffs that just float by like delicious morsels.
Finally the finished mix has a huge spectral rangeóthe low end on this CD is righteousóbut that might be at the mastering stage but I doubt it. The mixer really managed to put a lot of bass into the instruments without a hint of muddiness.
Musical highlights for me were 2. Maybe (Bjorkish glock, dance hall trombones, great electronic background vocals, nice Hammond) 4.Preacherman (electric guitar riff in the chorus) 5. Bimpe (electric guitar in the chorus) 7. OK OK (the chorus is Nashville thickness gorgeousness). Iím repeating myself, but almost every chorus has something to die for. Check it out if you like your pop sophisticated.
Submitted on 09/19/11 by Mike Maguire